Half Of A Yellow Sun: Chimamanda Adichie Explains Why Kainene Was Never Found
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie joined show host, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu at the Bounce Radio Live studio for an extensive conversation on the BlackBox Interview.
Over the course of their three-hour chat which premiered on New Year’s and January 3, 2021, respectively, the pair touched on Adichie’s literary work; devotion to the arts; Catholicism; feminism, and Nigeria as a whole.
Apart from her bestselling novels, Chimamanda has bagged nothing less than 15 honourary doctorate degrees from respected universities around the world including Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from Yale University; Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa from Georgetown University.
Her 2009 TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story, is currently one of the most viewed TED Talks of all time with over 7.7 million views.
Say what you want about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but one thing the writer doesn’t lack is confidence. Whether it’s discussing her vision for Nigeria, childhood in Nsukka, her study years in the United States, her writing, her deep love for her Igbo heritage, and more, Chimamanda doesn’t hold back when it comes to the things she loves.
The writer doesn’t give many sit-down interviews, which is why when she does, the world stops to listen. And after sitting down with Ebuka, she didn’t disappoint.
Chimamanda has achieved the kind of success few writers can claim. In her sit down with Ebuka, Chimamanda said that she didn’t expect that her first book, Purple Hibiscus would actually blow up the way it did. She said:
Purple Hibiscus did much better than I thought but not so much in earning a living. In terms of legitimacy and respect. It was reviewed by important publications. It was short-listed for the Orange Prize in the UK. That’s actually the thing that made it happen but in the US there was no noise because my publishers didn’t have a budget for promoting a book. What happened was that it started being hand-sold by independent bookstores. The independent bookstore owners and people who worked there had read the book, loved it and they just started handselling it.
Chimamanda also revealed in this interview that her desire to understand African history led her to enrol for a second Master’s degree program.
I didn’t need a second Master’s. I wanted one. I did a second Master’s at Yale because I wanted to learn African history. When I was applying, I did research and they said Yale had the best archives; pre-colonial West African. I am very interested in what life was like in this part of the world before the White man came and we don’t know a lot about it.
Half of a Yellow Sun is probably Chimamanda’s most critically acclaimed novel and indeed there have been so many discussions from fans about how it ended.
In the interview, she gave a concrete answer as to why the whereabouts of Kainene remains unknown.
There are many people today who got lost during the Civil War and we still don’t know their whereabouts. I think it’s important to honour that. There are people today, women today who are still thinking ‘maybe that son who disappeared in 1969 will appear. She said as she shook her head sadly.
Despite its huge commercial success as a novel, the movie adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun was reported by many as a bit underwhelming and not a huge commercial success.
Although Chimamanda didn’t think it was underwhelming, she admitted that she believes a one-off movie could not have done justice to the book.
The book is a lot. To try and make it into a movie; it would have been much better as a mini-series but at the time they weren’t a thing” She disclosed that film director, Biyi Bandele had made it very clear to her that he was going to have to make choices. For instance, “In the novel, Ugwu was the soul of the book”, she explained, “but in the movie, he wasn’t.
Over the past years, the calls for an independent state of Biafra has been reignited and Chimamanda is not optimistic about its viability.
There isn’t Biafra. There is a lot of movement, people are asking for it. For me, it’s a question of being practical. Where will the border be? This is a serious question because what I think is that what is propelling all those movements is a sense of marginalization which I think is completely valid.
However, the idea that the answer is independence is something that Chimamanda isn’t convinced of. She further said:
There is a lot of work we need to do in the South-East, a lot of political work, a lot of rethinking how we strategize politically before we can talk about Biafra.